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NURTURING LEADERS THROUGH DISCIPLESHIP ESSENTIALS

29 June 2021

This week’s E-bulletin is written by Dan Reese, TWR Canada President.

“When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart.” Matthew 13:19 ESV

We all have our unique stories of how we came to know Jesus as our personal Saviour, and our experiences living as Christians is no different. Whatever our journey, as followers of Christ, we are called to tell others about Him and help them to grow in their faith.

My journey to faith in Christ began as a young boy. I was raised in a strong Christian home where, at the time of my birth, my father was a travelling evangelist, singer and songwriter. It was at my mother’s knee shortly before my fourth birthday, that I prayed a prayer to receive Jesus into my heart. Since then, I have often thought that I really didn’t know what I was signing up for at that tender age. Yes, the gospel is simple and only requires my child-like faith to recognise that I am a sinner and in need of a Saviour. However, fully understanding what it means to be a Christian and applying it takes a lifetime of desiring to be a disciple.

In my teen years, my father pastored a local church and I continued to grow in my faith incrementally. However, during a year of Bible school, I began a more intentional journey of personalising the great spiritual heritage I had been given and becoming a more devoted disciple of Christ. This journey continues to this day as I commit to being a life-long disciple and disciple-maker.

In many parts of the world, the opportunities and resources for discipleship are more limited than here in Canada and the United Kingdom. In countries where evangelism efforts are having a great impact, there is often a shortage of content in the local language to help these new believers as they begin their Christian life. Leaving these new believers to ‘figure it out on their own’ may open them up to false teaching or falling away from their faith because they were not rooted in the truth, much like the parable of the sower in Matthew 13.

A number of years ago, our team at TWR recognised the need for a systematic discipleship tool that could be freely translated into many languages and dialects. We invested in the development of Discipleship Essentials (DE) to complement the work of evangelism that our radio transmitters and on-the-ground teams have been doing for years. Discipleship Essentials is a series of over 130 lessons that systematically grow a believer’s understanding of their faith, which helps them deepen their roots. We have released this tool for free in 13 languages so far with plans for more to come.

Since the launch of DE, the ministry has grown and expanded in several ways. What started as a tool for small groups is also being broadcast as a radio programme! In October 2020, we started airing a weekly French-language DE programme in West Africa. In a recent report, we learned that five people came to faith in December through listening to these programmes!

Through the development and use of DE, we further identified a need for training small group leaders. Over the past year, we have been creating a tool called Leadership Essentials, a 12-week workshop series to train small group leaders. We filmed the videos in the fall, and they are currently going through the post-production process. However, our DE Champion in the Philippines, Elena, heard about them and asked if she could start using them for training leaders of the Christian and Missionary Alliance churches in the Philippines.

Using the rough edited versions of the videos, Elena has been hosting monthly Zoom workshops for district leaders, who then take the videos and train the leaders in their districts (called ‘Echo trainings’). Elena has shared some of the impact these training sessions are already having:

“The webinars for our district are a big help. It sustains the discipleship programme in the churches here. We thought the discipleship programme would be disrupted until things go back to normal. But with these webinars during the pandemic, it highlighted to our denomination that we mean business in our discipleship.”

When leaders are trained and equipped, they pass this knowledge on to their small group members, and these new leaders create more small groups. This multiplication effect is incredible and is the heartbeat of our discipleship movement!

Join us as we thank God that Discipleship Essentials has been translated into 13 languages and pray for the ongoing impact that this will have, helping believers to deepen their understanding of their faith. Pray for the development of the Leadership Essentials resource and the lasting fruit this will produce.

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